The 8030 Project, a veterans’ suicide awareness project, was created as a community participatory public art project to raise awareness of the estimated 22 veterans and service members who kill themselves each day.
An installation featuring images from the project can be seen at the Hennepin County Government Center in the Hennepin Gallery in downtown Minneapolis through Oct. 27.
Images featured in the installation were culled from an open call to create individual memorials. The memorials use everyday objects in everyday spaces; 22 items represent the 22 lives lost.
The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Hennepin County Government Center, A-level, 300 S. 6th St.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it has taken steps recently to address the high levels of suicides, including monitoring veterans at high risk for suicide, creating a Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention and establishing a Veterans Crisis Line.
But a recent Government Accountability Office report suggested that there are significant holes in the VA’s efforts. The GAO found that the VA doesn’t know the extent to which veterans prescribed antidepressants are receiving recommended care for their depression.
When it reviewed 30 veterans’ medical records and compared their antidepressant treatment to the VA’s own clinical guidelines for major depressive disorder, the GAO found that 26 veterans weren’t assessed using a standardized tool four to six weeks after starting treatment, as recommended, and 10 veterans didn’t receive follow-up care within the recommended time frame.
It also found that when veterans do commit suicide, the VA’s data are not always reliable. Of 63 records it reviewed, 40 were incomplete. Among the missing information was whether the veteran had accessed VA health care services before his or her death. Other records had inaccurate data, like the wrong date of death or the wrong number of VA mental health visits.